The University of Illinois Springfield officially opened the new $21.75 million Student Union Building during a ribbon cutting ceremony on Sunday, January 14, 2018. The first-ever student union will serve as a social hub for student life and foster a greater sense of community on the growing campus.
UIS Chancellor Susan Koch was joined by U of I President Timothy Killeen, Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder and student leaders in cutting the ribbon.
“This building, the next step in the growth and success of this young university, is important for many reasons,” said Koch. “Most of all, it is important to our students and our future students and I have no doubt it will enrich the entire academic community here on campus and the larger Springfield community in ways we haven’t even yet imagined.”
The two-story, 50,000-square-foot student union anchors the campus’s south quad, providing campus dining services, a Starbucks coffee shop, a ballroom with seating for up to 450 people and a Student Leadership Center that houses student government, volunteer offices and workspaces for student organizations.
In her opening remarks, Koch thanked the UIS student leaders who saw a compelling need to build the facility; U of I System leadership; faculty, staff and students who served on the planning committee, architectural partners, UIS staff who made the building possible and donors for their generous support.
“As these visionary people know well, a project like the UIS Student Union is a big aspiration,” said Koch. “It’s a game-changer and without the generosity of our donors it would still be only an aspiration and not the beautiful reality you see around us today.”
Approximately $6.25 million in private funds has been raised towards the $8 million goal to fund the construction of the $21.75 million facility. The private fundraising effort continues. The remaining cost will be paid through campus funds and a construction fee that students approved in 2012.
“For a long time, here in Springfield, we have wanted a versatile, central location that’s sole purpose is to tend to the needs of the students and surrounding community,” said Garrett Nimmo, a sophomore economics major and president of the UIS Student Government Association. “Our students, as well as myself, are very excited to have this new facility to call our own.”
The new facility will fill a void that officials say has grown since UIS became part of the University of Illinois system in 1995. The campus was originally founded in 1969 as Sangamon State University, catering to upperclassmen and graduate-level students, but is now a traditional four-year school that lacked the central gathering place that student unions provide at most colleges across the nation.
“It reflects a commitment to the student experience here at UIS that is so deep and unwavering that this state-of-the-art building rose amid an historic state budget impasse and without a dime of taxpayer support,” said U of I President Timothy Killeen. “The credit goes to you – our students, alumni and supporters – for your support and generosity and to Susan and her team for their hard work and persistence to make this long-held dream a reality.”
An open house immediately followed the ribbon cutting. Food Service and Starbucks will begin regular operations in the building when students return to campus for the beginning of Spring Semester 2018 classes on Tuesday, January 16.